Alyssa Dumire, Director of Children’s Education
As you’re no doubt aware of by now, our region is home to some incredibly talented creative teens whose work is recognized annually in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In 2019, seventeen Regional Gold Key works went on to earn the highest national honor, a Gold Medal, and an invitation to the National Awards Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. As Regional Affiliates, we’re also invited and can’t miss the opportunity to support our students in the Big Apple. What does it look like when two museum educators take a work trip to NYC? Spoiler: we spend a lot of time in other museums, squeezing in four between the Scholastic Awards National Events. Read on for an illustrated journal of our shenanigans in the City!
7:40 am Arrive at LaGuardia! How do we get out of here? We discover that the only public transport to and from LGA is by bus and decide it’s too early for that, so we Lyft to Museum Mile to find breakfast and, more importantly for me, coffee, before the museums open.
9:40 am Soak in the morning sunshine on the steps of the Met and pretend we’re in the cast of Gossip Girl until the doors open at 10:00. We make a list of our must-see exhibitions, as we learned last year not to try to see the entire Met in one day. On our agenda: CAMP: Notes on Fashion, Epic Abstraction, In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at the Met, and the Roof Garden! Given more time and energy, we’d have liked to see Play it Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll, but lacking both, it didn’t make the cut.
10:45 am Ogle the over-the-top fashions of CAMP and contemplate incorporating at least the accessories in our everyday wardrobe.
11:30 am I audibly gasp upon turning the corner and spotting this Joan Mitchell masterpiece, La Vie en Rose, in scale the most “epic” painting in the exhibition, and just so dreamy. Masterworks by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Louise Nevelson, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Helen Frankenthaler are also here, but I’m (as the kids say) shook by the Mitchell.
1:00 pm Leave the Met intending to head to the Guggenheim, but Katy spots a kid with a Shake Shack bag so our plans are temporarily derailed by our rumbling tummies’ demands for shakes and crinkle-cut fries.
1:45 pm We’ve downed our shakes and entered the mesmerizing upward spiral of the Guggenheim. The main exhibition right now is Artistic License wherein six different contemporary artists were each given a segment of the spiral to curate according to their own chosen theme. One of the six is Paul Chan, 2017 recipient of the Scholastic Alumni Achievement Award (Alumni are everywhere)!
3:00 pm We check into our AirBnB, regroup, and contemplate our next move. Is 4 pm too early for bed? We decide yes, so we head to the Strand Book Store for books and souvenirs, then window shop until we reach a more reasonable bedtime.
10:00 am After a breakfast of the fluffiest doughnuts I’ve ever had from Dough, we arrive at Scholastic, Inc. for the Affiliate Leadership Conference! The Scholastic offices were recently, beautifully renovated, and we’re excited to spend the whole day here learning from our fellow Regional Affiliates and getting ideas for next year’s program (and rooftop views!).
11:00 am We’re at the Whitney Museum to see the Biennial! It’s A LOT to take in and we’re trying to avoid the dreaded museum fatigue, so we pick and choose the artists that catch our eye, then walk a bit up the High Line.
1:15 pm Visit the Gold Medal artwork in the galleries at Pratt and Parsons! We’ve seen so much artwork the past few days, but are still blown away at the ingenuity on display.
2:30 pm We find Sabine Croy, Civic Expression Award recipient (one of six in the country!), who has to arrive at dress rehearsal earlier than the rest of the students. Next time we see her will be on stage!
3:00 pm Eight more students from Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio and their families meet us for a group photo! We’re excited that so many were able to not only make it to NYC, but take the time to meet up. As a group, we march three blocks up the street to Carnegie Hall, for me, the highlight and proudest moment of the trip. Just look at those shining faces!
Notice that iconic sculpture in the background? Its creator, the late Robert Indiana, is another Alum of the Scholastic Awards and fellow Hoosier! Indiana’s more famous LOVE sculpture is also nearby, but, as these talented teens give us ample reason to HOPE for the future, we chose this spot.
5:30 pm After an early dinner, we’re back at Carnegie in our mezzanine seats. As another affiliate points out, we’ll be able to see the parts on the speakers’ heads, but for now we scramble to catch photos of the work from our region on the big screen.
6:00 pm The show begins with a welcome from Tina Fey! We also hear from Rose Byrne, current US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, and two alumni: fashion designer Zac Posen and astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz, this year’s Alumni Achievement Awardee. It’s wonderful to see such BIG celebrities here in support of these young artists and writers, but each year I’m most in awe of the poise and fierceness of the five National Student Poets, who perform poems written specifically for the event.
10:45 am We squeeze in one last museum visit, the Morgan Library and Museum, to ogle J.P. Morgan’s collection of rare texts and illuminated manuscripts. They have a beautifully designed Walt Whitman exhibition, as well as a very fun one on group photography, Among Others. The Morgan is not as well-known as the Met or MoMA, but it’s become one of my favorite stops. The building is gorgeous and their exhibitions are so rich and well-researched, and, despite the depth of information, never boring or dry.
2:00 pm We head back to the airport after a packed trip, looking forward to next year, but very much ready for a nap!
Want to see all the National Medalists for this year? Check out the online gallery here: Art & Writing.